May 12, 2023
EDMONTON — To help Albertans impacted by the wildfires, Alberta Health Services (AHS) is offering supports and resources including the ability to text the word ‘wildfire’ to 88111 and receive important information to help people stay safe, plan ahead, and remain healthy during wildfires.
“We want to provide information to Albertans in a variety of ways, increasing access to and connecting them to information they need, when the need it, regardless of where they are located,” says Carolyn Grolman, Executive Director of Health Link. “This additional resource will help ensure instant accessibility of important wildfire information in a time when thousands of Albertans are displaced.”
By texting ‘wildfire’ to 88111, users can choose to receive text messages with information on a variety of topics including air quality, how to report a wildfire, resources for planning ahead, mental health supports, and the effects of wildfire smoke on health.
Health Link also has wildfire information that is shared while on hold with 811. There is also a virtual hold feature that allows Albertans to request a call back instead of waiting. They will receive a call from a Health Link registered nurse as soon as their turn in the queue comes up.
In addition, Albertans can now also sign up for Text4Hope to receive free supportive text messages every day. To join, text HopeAB to 393939.
Text4Hope is an evidence-based tool supported by the Mental Health Foundation, in partnership with Calgary Health Foundation, the University Hospital Foundation, the Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation, Alberta Cancer Foundation, Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation and the RBC Foundation.
“We know many people are struggling and as we have seen in the past, having immediate support is critical during times of stress,” says Dr. Vincent Agyapong, psychiatrist and founder of Text4Hope.
Mental addiction and mental health staff are also on the ground available to connect with Albertans evacuated throughout the province.
For immediate support, help is available 24/7 by calling the mental health helpline at 1-877-303-2642. Trained staff provide confidential service for support, information, and referrals to anyone experiencing mental health concerns.
“We know this is a stressful time and we are here to help,” says Dr. Nicholas Mitchell, Provincial Medical Director with AHS Addiction and Mental Health.
A toll-free Indigenous support line, available in North and South Zone, is available by calling 1-844-944-4744. The support line is staffed by Indigenous Health Link staff and available weekdays from noon to 8 p.m. Staff will answer callers’ questions, help them access culturally appropriate care and support and assist them with navigating the healthcare system.
Online resources can be accessed at www.ahs.ca/wildfire and www.ahs.ca/helpintoughtimes, and include programs such as Text4Hope and Mental Wellness Moments focusing on helping Albertans cope. Information is available at ahs.ca/wildfire and by calling Health Link at 811.
Alberta Health Services is the provincial health authority responsible for planning and delivering health supports and services for more than four million adults and children living in Alberta. Our mission is to provide a patient-focused, quality health system that is accessible and sustainable for all Albertans. Our current focus is on reducing emergency department wait-times, improving EMS response times, increasing access to surgeries, and improving patient flow.